In the wake of the Covid-19 pandemic, it seems traditional factory floor practices and work ethics throughout value chains are being re-engineered, as manufacturing companies increasingly adopt digital technologies which incorporate automation and artificial intelligence.
The current economic environment is becoming increasingly volatile from both directions, and manufacturing companies must face the challenge of how to best manage supply-side obstacles during a difficult period where demand continues to rise.
Firms across all sectors have been obligated to implement digitalisation to remain relevant and grow business, and both customers and employees are having to adopt technology such as virtual meeting platforms in order to continue to collaborate and engage with their stakeholders.
It seems evident that the pandemic has shortened technology adoption from years to weeks. Different companies, of course, are at different stages of maturity when it comes to the idea of digitalisation. We’re transitioning from a stage where digital technologies are invented and deployed to an era where technologies themselves are continuously developing, learning and evolving.
Many companies benefitted from automation during the initial lockdown period – for example, Hero MotoCorp in India moved to Robotic Process Automation (RPA), in which its transfer of factory goods is completed entirely by robots. These automated systems are not really “intelligent” because they’re programmed so that a given input produces a given output. However, AI expands the scope of what automated systems can do.
Artificial intelligence can assist a compression of the supply chain through harnessing the power of data with thorough analysis to achieve better demand prediction, leading to a more refined supply process. It is apparent that the most important value-driver of artificial intelligence and automation technology isn’t the technology itself. It’s where it is deployed. With the right use of AI technology, businesses can translate data directly into an increase in sales. Through monitoring customer behaviour using particular algorithms, AI can assist in enhanced consumer knowledge, resulting in a near-immediate improvement of sales. Companies can become smarter about which products they are advertising, and tailor their product recommendations using the data collected. Along with this, improvements in reputation and profitability can all be achieved through better use of AI, so it almost becomes a no-brainer for businesses to implement these technologies.
Like the pandemic, digital transformation can be categorised into waves. The first wave – which many are still within – focuses on products, services and processes becoming digitalised. The second wave of digitalisation involves using artificial intelligence to improve and build on the quality of decisions made thereafter, based on the data collected by these digitalised systems – which in turn helps to optimise organisational efficiency.
What does the future hold? Greater visibility to say the least. In summary, all these pros of automation and artificial intelligence amount to an increase in visibility throughout the whole supply chain right through to consumer preferences. Whether it’s clinical trials of a post-pandemic vaccination, or travel and transport habits, in years to come AI can help make all these processes that extra bit more refined.
Has AI or automation helped your business prevail in these difficult times? If you want to discover how similar companies managed to achieve this, get in touch with us at www.gambica.org.uk to find out more.
by Nikesh Mistry, Sector Head – Industrial Automation, Gambica